Walk Leader: Led by Ka Bino Guerrero of Galleon San Pedro Tours
Photographs by: Shaira Eva C. Cutamora
At the heart of Cebu City is Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines established in the 16th Century at the onset of the Spanish colonial conquest of the archipelago. Despite the transfer of the more upscale establishments to the posh malls uptown in recent decades, Colon remains the main commercial hub for most Cebuanos. But veiled behind the familiar sounds and sights of downtown is the rich culture and history that continues to inspire wonder despite of the passage of time.
Around forty people joined the walking tour which assembled 5:30 in the afternoon by the T-junction where Colon and Junquera Street meet. Now surrounded by commercial buildings, this is where Chinese merchants used to sell wares brought down from junk boats that sailed through streams that extended from the coast to Old Colon. The walk began by passing by the historic buildings of Colon Street like Oriente, Vistarama, and Vision, some of the few structures in the vicinity that have retained their vintage architecture.
These old cinema houses have now been refurbished as groceries and offices. While in dire need of renovation, they still exude charm to those who take notice. The now faded façade of Vision, for example, feature naked muses of the art in Renaissance fashion done by Italian architect Dante Gidete.
From Colon, the walk took a turn to the Tabo sa Banay where exotic food shops dished up exotic dishes of lansiao (with horse testicles as main ingredient) and bakasi (saltwater eel). Another turn led to a narrow passage to Manalili Street, a haven for shoppers on the lookout for cheap ready-to-wear clothes.
A stone’s throw away is the Carbon Market, the oldest and largest farmer’s market in the city with its wide array of vegetables and neat lineup of containers of bagoong (shrimp paste). Quite near is the Freedom Park, a witness to countless rallies against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s before it was turned into a market.
The walk then snaked through a labyrinth of downtown back alleys, before returning to the starting point back in Colon Street where a short discussion capped the walk. Ultimately, Colon by Night focused attention on a different facet of the city that has all too often faded in the background to be recognized by many.